Image & Multimedia Search Complaints

When AltaVista launched its Photo Finder service in late 1998, it upset a number of artists. Since then, there have been complaints against AltaVista's service and similar multimedia and image search engines. Below are some resources related to this issue.

Google's Thumbnails Illegal in Germany
Greplaw.org, March 29, 2004
http://grep.law.harvard.edu/article.pl?sid=04/03/29/1510213&mode=thread

A German regional court rules that thumbnail photos used in Google's news service violate copyright laws.

Court backs thumbnail image linking
News.com, July 7, 2003
http://news.com.com/2100-1025_3-1023629.html

It's OK for search engines to show thumbnail images in search results but the legality of displaying full-sized images remains to be determined, a US appeals court has ruled. The decision comes in the case of Kelly versus Arriba Soft (Ditto). Previously, Kelly had won a ruling by a lower court that showing full-sized images violated copyright.

Legal Rulings On Image Search & Meta Tags
Search Engine Watch, Feb. 19, 2002
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2164561

In the right circumstances, image search engines don't violate copyright and using another company's trademarks in meta tags isn't infringement, two separate court cases have found. A rundown on the new rulings can be found in the story below.

Image Search Faces Renewed Legal Challenge
Search Engine Watch, Aug. 22, 2001
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2164031

A look at the issues behind a case coming up for appeal in Sept. 2001 involving whether search engines have the right to index images without explicit permission.

MusicCity Emerges as Top Napster Alternative
InternetNews.com, March 21, 2001
http://www.internetnews.com/streaming-news/article/0,,8161_720231,00.html

As Napster struggles in the face of a court-order restricting what files it can offer, free MP3 fans are flocking to MusicCity. The question is, how long until the music companies turn their attention MusicCity's way?

RIAA threatens to sue Lycos over MP3
Reuters, March 25, 1999
--no longer online--

The Recording Industry Association of America is considering suing Lycos over its MP3 search engine.

MP3 Search Engine Under Fire
Reuters, March 24, 1999
http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,18688,00.html

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry files suit in London against FAST, the company that produces the Lycos MP3 search engine.

Is The Lycos MP3 Index Legal
The Search Engine Report, Feb. 3, 1999
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2167061

Examines how Lycos may be violating a new US copyright law with its MP3 index.

Photo Search Fight Continues|
The Search Engine Report, Dec. 3, 1998
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2166741

Photographer Les Kelly still seeks a settlement with AltaVista after sending them a written complaint, and he sent a similar complaint to Lycos.

AltaVista Photo Finder Has Artists Concerned
The Search Engine Report, Nov. 4, 1998
http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/article.php/2166671

Not everyone is happy with AltaVista's Photo Finder service. Some photographers and artists are concerned that AltaVista is violating their copyright by making copies of their pictures without explicit permission, in order to present thumbnail images in search results. The article above provides more details on this issue.